Indonesia learns from 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

Residents watch the waters in Manado Bay in North Sulawesi province, Indonesia, following the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan that triggered tsunamis.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Indonesia still has the battle scars from a tsunami that plowed through just after Christmas six years ago. So the country isn't not taking any chances.

From Jakarta, here's the BBC's Kate McGeown.


Kate McGeown: Indonesia has nothing like the money and resources available in Japan to build homes to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis. Many homes are just simple structures right on the coastline, giving little protection from even small swells. But Indonesia has learned from the huge Asian tsunami of 2004 that devastated the country and killed 170,000 people. It's introduced an early warning system in at least some areas.

It's a similar story in the neighboring Philippines. Richard Gordon is chairman of the Philippine Red Cross and says people are far more aware now of what to do should a tsunami hit.

Richard Gordon: All we have is the early warning system. And the system tells us commonsense -- to go up to the highest area you can climb up to. If you're in a building to go up to the fifth floor, the sixth floor. If you are beside the coastline, get away from the coastline. Go up the nearest hill. Go up as high as you can.

But it's a constant concern for Indonesia. And ironically in just a few weeks time, more than 20 countries had scheduled a big tsunami drill in North Sulawesi. The scene was a quake which triggered a tsunami that was in danger of hitting other parts of the region. Now it's happening for real.

In Jakarta, I'm the BBC's Kate McGeown for Marketplace.

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